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Gang suspected of smuggling £1.5m of drugs into Northern Ireland told someone would get 'bullet in head' if operation failed, court hears

By Alan Erwin

Published 26/09/2016

The drugs were seized in Belfast's docks area.
The drugs were seized in Belfast's docks area.

A Dublin-based gang suspected of smuggling nearly £1.5 million worth of cocaine and heroin into Northern Ireland warned someone would get "a bullet in the head" if the operation failed, a court heard today.

Police claimed a man arrested after the drugs were seized in Belfast's docks area could now be under threat because of his alleged links to a violent outfit with networks in the Republic of Ireland and Holland.

Details emerged as 28-year-old Neil Davidson was remanded in custody on charges connected to the haul recovered last Friday night. 

Cocaine with an estimated street value of £960,000, heroin worth £500,000, and cannabis resin valued at £2,000 was found after officers stopped a car and trailer on the West Bank Road.

Davidson, of no fixed address but from the Portadown area, faces counts of possessing Class A and Class B drugs with intent to supply, and importing Class A and Class B drugs.

He is understood to have been detained shortly after exiting a ferry at Belfast ferry port.

As he appeared before Belfast Magistrates' Court a defence lawyer confirmed he claims to have acted under duress.

Opposing bail, an investigating detective said Davidson is believed to be part of an organised criminal gang importing drugs on a large scale.

The accused was said to have refused to identify others , but mentioned contacts in Northern Ireland, Dublin and Holland.

District Judge Fiona Bagnall was told Davidson's own safety could be at risk if released.

"There's a loss of £1.5m of drugs, and as the defendant said in interview, (he was told) somebody will be getting a bullet in the head if this operation went pear-shaped," the detective disclosed.

Defence solicitor Mark Crawford argued police were trying to "ride two horses" by claiming his client is connected to a violent gang yet also under threat.

However, the detective replied: "I believe he had a certain degree of responsibility in this incident, and as a result, like in any case, with responsibility there are consequences."

Mr Crawford described the accused was "the perfect patsy" due to his lack of a criminal record and significant health issues.

The court heard Davidson has had two liver transplants since 2004.

But refusing bail, Judge Bagnall cited the potential risks of re-offending and interfering with the police investigation.

She remanded Davidson in custody to appear again by video-link on October 24.

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